x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Save Graeme Swann for South Africa cricket series

The England off-spinner should be rested as he is unlikely to play a big role in the home Test series against the West Indies with conditions serving seamers better.

Graeme Swann, centre, will have a limited role against the West Indies just like he did the last time they visited England.
Graeme Swann, centre, will have a limited role against the West Indies just like he did the last time they visited England.

Call it what you want: rested, dropped or rotation but Graeme Swann should not play against the West Indies this week. Hold on, hear me out. Yes, he is the best and most influential spinner on the planet and the heartbeat of the England dressing room.

But, seriously, how many overs is he going to bowl in seamer-friendly conditions, juiced up by record levels of rain in April, at Lord's this week? He will spend most of his time at slip waiting for the Windies' carefree batsmen to nick delivery after delivery pitched outside off stump.

The last time the Windies apathetically pulled on their whites, short-sleeve sweater, long-sleeve sweater, coat, hat and gloves for a Test match in England in May, Swann bowled just five overs in the first innings of the 10-wicket victory at Lord's and only three in the second innings of the innings victory in Durham. To say he was a peripheral figure would be generous.

Last year, he sent down a combined 21 overs in three innings against Sri Lanka in chilly conditions at the start of the English "summer". Instead, Swann's place in the XI should go to Steven Finn or Graham Onions to create a feared pace quartet with Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan that will leave the Windies batsmen eyeing the return flight to the Caribbean once the first ball has swung prodigiously at searing pace past their runny noses.

Swann will rightly be restored for the series with South Africa but it should be horses for courses right now, especially after only two of the 20 Windies wickets fell to spin in their final warm-up match.

kaffleck@thenational.ae

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